BRIDGEWATER, Va. - Bridgewater College will make its first-ever appearance in the NCAA women's soccer tournament on Friday evening when the Eagles play Hope College in the opening round at Otterbein University. Game time Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. The host school Otterbein plays Dominican (Ill.) in Friday's first game beginning at 5:00 p.m.
Following is a quick glance at the Otterbein pod.
THE RECORDS: Bridgewater enters the NCAA tournament with a 15-3-2 overall record. Hope is 14-2-2 this season and ranked No. 17 in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25.
TOURNAMENT EXPERIENCE: Hope is making its sixth trip to the NCAA tournament and its third straight. Bridgewater is making the program's first trip to the NCAA tournament. The Eagles are one of five teams in this year's tournament making their first appearance. Also going dancing for the first time are Vassar, Occidental, St. Joseph's (Maine) and Adrian. Adrian earned its first trip by defeating Hope in the MIAA tournament final.
KEY MATCHUP: One of the more intriguing matchups in the opening round contest could take place in the midfield between Hope's Rylie Dalton, the MIAA Most Valuable Player and Bridgewater's Hanna Randolph, the ODAC Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-ODAC selection.
EXPERIENCE VS. YOUTH: Hope will present a lineup that is similar in makeup to the Lynchburg College starting unit the Eagles faced during the ODAC season. Hope will start nine seniors against the Eagles. The only two underclassmen to make the starting group for Hope are goalkeeper Jordanne Ellingboe and midfielder Maria Egloff, both sophomores.
Bridgewater counters with a starting group that features three freshmen and three sophomores. Bailey Kratz is the lone senior in the starting group for the Eagles.
STINGY DEFENSES: Both teams boast strong defenses entering NCAA play.
The Flying Dutch have 11 shutouts on the season and have allowed seven goals in 18 games. Sophomore goalkeeper Ellingboe has a 0.38 goals against average. Three seniors, each an all-conference defender, keep play clean in front of the keeper. First-team All-MIAA pick Eliza Beird anchors the backline with support from second-team All-MIAA selections Kristen Marsman and Morgan Buursma.
The Eagles have allowed 13 goals in 20 contests and have matched the Flying Dutch's 11 shutouts. Sophomore goalkeeper Sydney Davis, a third-team All-ODAC choice, has a 0.68 goals against average for the season. The backline has played well in front of Davis. Savannah Cowan, a second-team All-ODAC pick anchors the middle while Sydney Ryan, also a second-team All-ODAC choice, and Cyan Coates, a third team pick, patrol the outside.
BALANCED OFFENSES: The offenses are similar in the fact that neither the Flying Dutch nor the Eagles boast a dominant goal scorer.
Hope is led in scoring by Hilary Curry with 18 points on seven goals and four assists. Dalton and Rachael Braginton have each scored 16 points. Dalton has seven goals and two assists while Braginton has six goals and four assists.
The Eagles have four players with at least 20 points. Eagles forward Hunter Collier, a third-team All-ODAC performer and Randolph lead the team, each with 21 points. Collie is the Eagles co-leader in goals scored with eight. She has also dished out five assists. Randolph has seven goals and seven assists. Kratz and Catherine Haufe each have 20 points. Kratz has seven goals and six assists on the season while Haufe is tied with Collier for the team lead in goals with eight. Haufe also has four assists.
Both teams also can bring offense off the bench. The Eagles can insert Emily York into the lineup and the freshman forward has produced five goals and five assists for 15 points. Junior forward Abbey Przekop has scored nine points on four goals and one assist for the Flying Dutch.
MIAA vs. ODAC: Hope played Lynchburg in the 2016 NCAA tournament and the Hornets prevailed 3-2.
This season, Adrian, the MIAA Champion, travelled to Salem for early-season matchups with Roanoke and Lynchburg. Adrian and Roanoke played to a 0-0 draw while Lynchburg defeated Adrian 3-1.
THE COACHES: Bridgewater head coach Mike Van Horn is in his 11th season. His teams have an overall record of 133-71-12 and have posted 10 straight winning seasons. Hope's head coach, Dr. Leigh Sears, took over the Flying Dutch program in 2000 and has a record of 210-108-24.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POD: Host Otterbein plays Dominican (Ill.) in the other game this weekend. Both teams bring long unbeaten streaks into the NCAA tournament.
Dominican is 18-2 overall and has won 18 straight games after starting the season 0-2. The Stars are making their second straight trip to the NCAA tournament after defeating Illinois Tech, 1-0 in overtime to win the NACC title.
Otterbein has not lost in 15 straight after opening the season with a 2-2 record. The Cardinals defeated Ohio Northern, 1-0 in overtime, to win the OAC title and the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Otterbein is making its seventh trip to the NCAAs, but its first since the 2010 season.